Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1118/31918

From The Socialist newspaper, 27 January 2021

Overwhelmed, underfunded, underpaid, and still fighting for safe PPE

Hospital workers are

Hospital workers are   (Click to enlarge)

Holly Johnston, Sheffield Socialist Party and NHSPay15 campaign organiser

On the front line we're seeing whole wards being wiped out with staff sickness. In my own trust, at the start of January, there was approximately 9% staff absence. When an area has an outbreak, it brings it to its knees. This is not because of a lack of effort and hard work from staff. We're simply working in an already overwhelmed NHS under a government that doesn't prioritise the safety of workers.

Hospitals across England are getting more and more likely to reach capacity, compounding the difficulties already faced by the shortage of NHS beds in England, which have been halved over the last 30 years.

Around 50,000 staff are off sick with Covid-19 or self-isolating. There are already 100,000 vacancies in the NHS due to the government's lack of funding and not prioritising recruitment and retention of staff. One-third of nurses are considering leaving, with the pandemic highlighting the mental health strain on staff as well as the financial health problems many of us face.

The hospitals are relying on the good will of already exhausted staff to pick up overtime shifts, or on agency workers who are often moved from area to area without being routinely swabbed.

PPE

Unions and other grassroots campaigns have been fighting for Public Health England to update the current PPE guidance. The science available clearly outlines the requirement for higher-level protection in all areas treating suspected and Covid-19 patients, not just for aerosol generating procedures. We now know that Covid-19 is spread by large droplets and small aerosol particles which are generated by coughing, talking and even breathing.

At the beginning of the first wave, we were all geared up for mask fit testing and to wear higher-grade FFP3 masks. However, this quickly changed and we were supplied with just surgical masks and visors. It became evident that the guidance was based on what masks were available rather than what was needed.

NHS trusts should interpret national PPE guidance as the bare minimum level, not the absolute ceiling for PPE. Some trusts have shown it can be done, with Homerton, Plymouth and Southampton, among others, all changing their guidance to ensure safer working conditions.

Healthcare workers are three to four times more likely to contract Covid-19 and the ongoing pressure on the NHS is huge. As many as one in ten that have had Covid-19 face long Covid issues.

It's worrying what the NHS workforce in the future will look like without urgent prioritisation of funding, a stop to outsourcing and cuts, and better safety for the workers.

At the last count 670 healthcare workers had sadly lost their lives, with the up-to-date data no longer being made available.

Health and Safety England is in the pockets of the bosses. It has come to light that it has been signing off PPE that isn't fit for purpose. That highlights the need for a replacement body under the control of the trade union movement, while also strengthening the argument for a nationalised manufacture and supply chain.

The quality of the PPE has been variable with aprons and gloves in particular ripping upon wearing them. The leadership of the NHS unions need to fight for what is needed. We know that unions that fight are unions that grow, and activists need to push for a fighting programme which will bring about change and expand union strength in our workplaces.

Vaccine

The vaccine programme is bringing some new hope for many NHS workers, but we must not let the government use this as a reason to be complacent and come out of national lockdowns too soon. The vaccine will help lessen the severity of symptoms in most people, but will not stop you being a carrier for the virus.

We also do not want the vaccine programme to fall into the laps of another Tory crony and become another private contract. The misinformation and lack of clarity from the government is worrying as it only helps to dissuade people from having the vaccine, potentially reducing the uptake.

Student nurses have been having a particularly rough ride, with first and second years essentially working for free during the pandemic and still having to pay university fees. They are invaluable pairs of hands on the wards and are definitely not upholding their usual supernumerary status. This means that they are being treated as if they are part of the workforce. Some third years are getting paid, but it is dependent on whether individual trusts are willing to issue contracts.

After decades of cuts and privatisation it comes as no surprise that the NHS is already overwhelmed. The true picture of the extent of the damage is yet to be seen. What has become apparent, with more urgency than ever, is the necessity of a party that represents the needs of health workers; one that will bring the NHS into public ownership and control, one that will defend services, fight austerity and oppose pay freezes.

The Socialist Party demands

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation £

 

Your message: 

 


In The Socialist 27 January 2021:


News

Covid spreading, poverty rising, rich get richer, fight for socialism!

Health, Covid and the vaccine: It's a class issue

Poverty wages: When workers can't afford to self-isolate

Fees frozen at £9,250 a year, fight for free education

DVLA Covid outbreak: They only care about output and productivity

Jaguar Land Rover: West Midlands superspreader


Schools

Schools: 'We have to fight for everything'

Martin Powell-Davies for NEU DGS: "We need to use our collective strength"


What we think

Biden, Labour, and the need for a new mass workers' party


Workplace news

Sage care workers strike again: Billionaires refuse to pay up

Unison NEC elections: United left challenge needed to fight slaughter of jobs and services

Steel site scaffolders strike for the 'rate of the job'

Merseyside: DHL workers at Burton's Biscuits strike against half-baked pay deal and bullying bosses

British Gas engineers continue strike against fire-and-rehire plans

Low-paid hospital workers strike


NHS

Overwhelmed, underfunded, underpaid, and still fighting for safe PPE

Health worker cooperation in the face of the pandemic


Arab Spring

Ten years since the 'Arab Spring'


TUSC

TUSC is up and running for May elections

Come to the TUSC local elections conference - 7 February

Why I'm leaving Labour and campaigning for TUSC

Councillors in Surrey resign from Labour and look to stand independently


Campaigns

Solidarity meeting with Mohamud Hassan

Save Our Square from New Labour gentrification

Help fund a challenge to austerity at the ballot box - donate today!


International socialist news and analysis

Mass protests in Russia against Putin regime


Review

TV Review: It's a Sin

TV review: The Hidden Story of Disabled Britain


 

Home   |   The Socialist 27 January 2021   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

NHS:

triangleWomen's health matters

trianglePublic sector workers respond to the budget

triangleSocial care: End privatisation and let workers decide how it's run

triangleBoot private companies out of our NHS

triangleTory consultation on home-use abortion pills

Workers:

triangleUnder attack and fighting back

triangleWhy we need socialists in London city hall

triangleA history of International Women's Day

triangleA fighting programme for women's rights and socialism

Vaccine:

triangleVaccine algorithm can't solve capitalist inequality

triangleQuestion mark over AstraZeneca's vaccine to protect against new Covid variant

triangleCovid 'vaccine wars' underline failure of capitalist nation states to deal with the global pandemic

Covid:

triangleGarment workers and Covid: Dying for less than minimum wage

triangleWhere's the road map to jobs and wages Boris?

Healthcare:

triangleOn the NHS front line

Nurses:

triangleSuper-rich tax evasion costs 34 million nurses worldwide

Hospitals:

triangleNHS white paper: no solution to failed Tory policies

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

3/3/21

Budget

Not a budget for the working class!

3/3/21

Women

Women's health matters

3/3/21

Budget

Public sector workers respond to the budget

26/2/21

Labour

Liverpool Labour meltdown

24/2/21

Schools

Johnson's 'road map' for schools: Act together to protect safety

24/2/21

Uber

Drivers win case - they are workers

24/2/21

Covid

Where's the road map to jobs and wages Boris?

24/2/21

Labour

Starmer's speech a return to New Labour

24/2/21

Covid

Garment workers and Covid: Dying for less than minimum wage

24/2/21

Privatisation

Social care: End privatisation and let workers decide how it's run

24/2/21

Vaccine

Vaccine algorithm can't solve capitalist inequality

23/2/21

Britain

The struggle needs an electoral arm

17/2/21

NHS

NHS white paper: no solution to failed Tory policies

17/2/21

Covid

Covid workplace safety

17/2/21

Independence

SNP's independence referendum 2 'roadmap'

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


March 2021

February 2021

January 2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999